Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Nunsense"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"Nunsense"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Theatre Works' current show at the Stadium Theatre is Dan Goggin's "Nunsense''. The show is about five zany nuns, the little Sisters of Hoboken who are putting on a fundraiser to raise money to bury 52 sisters accidentally poisoned by the convent cook, Sister Julia Child of God. The nuns decide the best way to raise the money is to put on a variety show, so they take over the school auditorium which is currently set up for the eighth grade production of "Grease". Here we meet Reverend Mother Regina, a former circus performer; Sister Mary Hubert, the Mistress of Novices; a streetwise nun from Brooklyn named Sister Robert Anne; Sister Mary Leo, a novice who is a wannabe ballerina; and the delightfully wacky Sister Mary Amnesia. These nuns sing and dance their way into the hearts of the audience with their clever and witty lines of dialogue. Director Mark Anderson infuses the show with the energy needed while musical director Mary Jo Rett plays the keyboards. Mark chooses five talented women to fill these roles to provide a dynamic evening of entertainment for a very appreciative audience.

Mark blocks the nuns beautifully in each of their different scenes and gives them their moment to shine in this show. He also built and designed the Grease set for the show with costumes and puppet by Sharon Charette. Mary Jo not only taught the harmonies of the duets, trios and group numbers but she also plays lead keyboards and conducts a three piece orchestra. Some of the dance numbers include tap, a time step, doo-wop, Charleston and a comic ballet scene.Mary Concannon as the stage manager keeps things running smoothly all night long.Playing Sister Mary Regina, the Mother Superior is veteran actress, Carol Varden. She commands the stage as the authority figure and has a wonderful Irish brogue. She has topnotch voice which she shows off in the group numbers. Regina was a former circus performer and she does a very funny tight rope walking imitation with an umbrella in "Turn Up the Spotlight". Carol obtains many laughs during her Rush scene where she sniffs this bottle and gets high from it which stops the show with a multitude of laughter. She flashes the audience with her flash dance and imitations on the bar stool. Carol also shines in cooking with the BVM scene with her many funny one-liners. One of the funniest moments occurs when she ends up dressed like Carmen Miranda with a fruit headdress and maracas at the end of Act 1. The second in command, Sister Hubert, the Mistress of the Novices is played by Charlene Soucy who I saw in the show with Carol back in 1992 when she played Sister Amnesia. She has a dynamite soprano voice and is a dynamic actress. Charlene has many funny lines where she insults Regina for having bought a HDTV and they have a comic duet called "Just a Couple of Sisters". She has a comic duet with Sister Leo called "The Biggest Ain't the Best" and she also makes fun of her name Hubert. But it is the 11th hour number that brings down the house, "Holier Than Thou". Charlene does an awesome job with this gospel song, coaxing the audience members to join in on the chorus of it.

Two of the zaniest nuns in this show are Robert Ann and Amnesia. Robert Ann, the streetwise nun from Brooklyn, is played by Connie Anderson. She is a hoot in this role. Some of her habit humor consists of imitations of Attila, the nun, Heidi, Pippi Longstocking, Princess Leia and Katherine Hepburn. She also does a topnotch job with the three songs. "Playing Second Fiddle" where she sings about always being the understudy nun, "Growing Up Catholic", a sentimental song where she tells about her tough childhood in Brooklyn and "I Just Wanna Be a Star" where she finally gets to strut her stuff for the audience. Connie also has the funniest ad lib of the night when she tells the audience as Robert Ann that she misses alcohol. There is also a comic scene where she and Leo do a dance to Happy Days playing on the jukebox. Danielle DeRotto keeps the audience in stitches as Amnesia, the nun who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head. She is hilarious in the "So You Want to Be a Nun" number which she does with her puppet, Sister Mary Annette. Danielle uses two different voices in this song so you can tell who is who. Luckily she remembers who she is during her "I Could Have Gone to Nashville" song and helps save the nun's fundraiser from being ruined. Danielle does an excellent job in the quiz about their order where someone won a St. Christopher's prayer, St. Francis statue and a rosary. I previously reviewed Carol, Connie and Danielle in these roles in 2006. Rounding out this cast is Meredyth Waterman as Sister Mary Leo, the novice who wants to be a ballerina nun. She does a wonderful ballet to "Benedicite" and gets to show off a comic dance in the Dying Nun ballet where she pretends to choke on death on the poisoned stew. Meredyth is a trained ballerina, having been with the RI Ballet company for many years. She, Robert and Amnesia do a gorgeous Andrews Sisters song with three part harmony called "The Drive-In". They show a comic black and white movie called Nunsmoke with Regina as Miss Kitty in a compromising pose in her undies. So for a hilarious look at how "Nunsense is Habit Forming" be sure to catch Theatre Works version at the Stadium Theatre.

"Nunsense" (22 - 24 October)
THEATRE WORKS
@ Stadium Theatre, Monument Square, WOONSOCKET RI
1(401)762-4545

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